Shootout Thriller: Carling Cup Rnd 1

Shootout Thriller: Carling Cup Rnd 1

Two youngsters celebrate a shoot-out win but did both sides disrespect the competition?

For the second season running The Wednesday went through a tight cup encounter on penalties, to win the right to travel to Blackburn at the end of the month. Yet there the comparisons with last year’s JPT Chesterfield match ends. Where that match was exciting, this one was positively dull.

Where that match had two teams set out to attack, with a positive intent to win the game, this match had two teams who appeared to care not whether they went through or not.

The lack of intent was both predictable and clear from the changes both sides had made. For both teams promotion is what this season is about and the League Cup is unimportant at best and at worst it’s actually a potential problem. This is especially true for Wednesday who faced a rapid turnaround, travelling to Bournemouth on Saturday and then back up North to play Bury on Tuesday night. If Arsene Wenger or Alex Ferguson were given that fixture list their respective dummies would be thrown out and changes would be made. But at this level we just have to lump it. Is this a level playing field?

That aside, with only Clinton Morrison, Gary Madine and Liam Palmer playing from the Rochdale starting line up, it gave an opportunity to the fringe players to stake a claim.This included new signing Daniel Uchechi, youngster Cecil Nyoni and fringe first teamers like James O’Connor, Daniel Jones and Giles Coke.

This was their chance to shine. This was their chance to shine, to show why they should be playing in the more important league games.

Throughout the first half, Blackpool were entirely disinterested and frankly they looked as though they were not interested in the game or tournament at all. Their team was made up of second rank players, but as a team they played the first half with none of the vigour, pace and passion that made Blackpool such a joy to watch in the top division last season.

In contrast, the Wednesday second string actually played very well in the first 45 minutes. It was Wednesday who had the best openings and with better finishing could have easily been one or two goals up. Gary Madine and James O’Connor both had good chances after errors from hapless Blackpool keeper Halstead and should really have put the home team in front.

The truth is that this was not a good match. In hindsight it was a bad match for Sky, a bad advert for the tournament and an unfair reflection on both teams. There is no doubt that Wednesday were the more interested in the first half. But Gary Megson’s decisions proved that Wednesday, just as much as Blackpool, were uninterested in this game. To the extent that bizarrely there was an attacking right back, Jon Otsemobor at centre half, an attacking midfielder, Liam Palmer, at right back and a lanky centre half, Reda Johnson, up front. The players were trying to win the game. The players were trying to stake their claim to a regular place and deserve credit. But to those that decided to make the effort, it was an insult to have those players managed in a way that had complete disregard for both the tournament and the effort (financial and physical) that 5,240 made in getting to the game. It was a farce that was disrespectful.

The second half was dominated by Blackpool and even if Wednesday had got a first half goal Blackpool had enough chances to win the tie comfortably. Blackpool continued to play in a manner that appeared as though they had decided not to win.

The game meandered on through normal time, extra time and through to the inevitable penalty shootout.To their credit, the Wednesday players clearly wanted this, as they had shown in the first half.

It was hard to judge how much the Blackpool players cared; they missed their first two penalties with two poor efforts and Wednesday kept their heads to go through.

The Wednesday players celebrated with genuine passion and emotion. They MEANT this.

And they LOVED it, especially Clinton Morrison. They wanted this and have got their reward.

The irony is that had the game been taken seriously by either manager it would have been over in normal time. The managers were not interested in winning or losing but getting through this game without any risks to their first teamers. But ‎ what good does losing do? And winning is a habit is it not? And the 5,000 that made the effort have not paid their cash to make sure David Prutton is not injured. They have come to watch their team WIN, likewise, the respectable following from across the Pennines.

So it’s onto Ewood Park. The scene of the last decent cup run that Wednesday put together in making the semi-finals of this competition in 2002. Hopefully the winning habit and winning ways would have continued. Hopefully those that make the effort will get a more serious attitude from the management.

Here’s to hoping that this is the start of something more interesting than a long night in the first week of the season.

Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @jpowls

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *